I had fun with Josh last Saturday.
Side note: We don't get nearly enough time together these days. We just don't. Basically, on most days we communicate with grunts and text messages. Or we like each other's status on Facebook.
Kidding. We're not Facebook friends.
Wait, maybe we are.
Last Saturday I made a date to go visit the Holly Bible Boy, the small brother of one of my all-time favorite kids. His family has moved twice in the last couple of years and I lost track of them after the 2nd move, which happened to coincide with the period of time when my father was in and out of the hospital. I just didn't have any energy left over to be looking out for my little buddy, much as I love him and his many siblings. I let it all slide.
A few weeks ago a former co-worker of mine ran into the mom and a couple of the siblings at a school way far away in a different part of my school district. She recognized them, got the mom's cell number, and emailed me with the information.
So, last Saturday Josh and I went out to visit them. Josh didn't really want to go with me--he's scared of little kids, maybe because I have told him too many war stories from work. I don't know. In the end he did come though. We hung out in a park with 3 of the 6 kids. My Holly Bible Boy is 12 now, wears his hair long, and tried very hard to convince us to let him drive our minivan. His older brother is 14 and didn't come because on Saturdays he works as a helper with his uncle in a automotive repair shop. The little sister and one of the little brothers came, though.
The three of them walked a mile or more on a warm, humid morning to meet us at the park.
Christ, I would have picked them up if they had told me.
We sat in the grass and talked and then watched them play for awhile. The little one mentioned a couple of times that he was thirsty and maybe we should drive to the Safeway, casting significant looks at Josh and me and was firmly shushed by his older brother and sister.
These kids kill me.
We took them up to the store to get drinks and then drove them to their home. They are living with their mom in the basement of their grandparents' house. They have bikes, and a safe place to ride them. There are kids to play with up and down the street.
You guys, it's out in the country. Or at least, in a semi-rural-ish part of suburban Montgomery County. There is a tiny farm at the end of the street they live in, and the owner lets them pat the horses. It smells good outside.
It is such a huge improvement in their living situation. From nasty, gang-ridden Langley Park, which eats kids like them up and spits them out, to a modest rambler on a quiet street in Cloverly, Maryland.
I went inside to say hello to the mom who asked me if I could help her find a job. Pretty sure I can't, but I said I would keep my eyes open. Then we watched the kids ride their bikes up and down the street for a few minutes.
When we drove away Josh said, "You know, those kids aren't too bad."
I hope this is the beginning of easier times for my little friends, but we all know that a family living on the edge like that can go under in a heartbeat.
Josh and I spent the rest of the day together. We drove up to Sugarloaf Mountain, ate lunch at a restaurant, hiked half-heartedly (maybe shouldn't have had that wine with lunch), and then went to see The Avengers.
It was a good day.